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Medical News

Canada: More HIV Treatment Could Cut Subsequent Cases 60 Percent

July 3, 2008

A study of data on HIV patients in British Columbia finds that more aggressive treatment programs could reduce future AIDS cases by up to 60 percent.

"Our data is starting to generate support for the idea that treatment, as well as being a benefit to patients, can also be effective in preventing AIDS cases in the future," said Dr. Julio Montaner, a study coauthor.

The researchers developed a mathematical model to study the effect, over a 25-year period, of expanding access to highly active antiretroviral therapy in British Columbia. Although the province provides free HIV drugs, various challenges associated with treatment are blamed for the fact that just half the HIV patients there access HAART.

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According to the study, expanding treatment to 75 percent of HIV-positive patients would cut the province's number of annual new infections by 30 percent. Further extending treatment to 90 percent and 100 percent of patients would lower the number of future AIDS cases by 50 percent and 60 percent, respectively, the study says.

Montaner and colleagues have long been advocates of expanding HIV treatment as a means to reduce onward transmission because the drugs dramatically reduce patients' viral loads, meaning they are much less infectious. The new model, he said, backs up this theory. "Bottom line, we showed that no matter how you configure it, the more people you treat, the more infections you prevent," he said.

Montaner called for greater efforts to seek out patients and encourage them to enter treatment. "These results provide powerful additional motivation to accelerate the roll-out of HAART programs aggressively targeting those in medical need, both for their own benefit and as a means of decreasing new HIV infections," the researchers concluded.

The full report, "Expanded Access to Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy: A Potentially Powerful Strategy to Curb the Growth of the HIV Epidemic," was published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases (2008;198(1):59-67).

Back to other news for July 2008

Adapted from:
Globe and Mail (Toronto)
07.03.2008; Rod Mickleburgh


  
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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
 
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